Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • LIVE: French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

Europe

After breakdowns, Eurostar trains restart

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-22

The first Eurostar in four days left Paris for London on Tuesday morning, after multiple train breakdowns left thousands of passengers stranded ahead of the Christmas holidays. The company has warned that it will take days to clear the backlog.

AFP - Packed Eurostar trains nosed gingerly out of Paris, Brussels and London on Tuesday as the embarrassed rail firm began to clear a backlog of 75,000 passengers stranded by a three-day shutdown.
  
The normally high-speed service, seen as a triumph of European engineering, was brought shuddering to a halt on Friday night by what a British spokesman has called a fall of "fluffier" than expected snow.
  
Thousands of passengers were at London St Pancras, Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi as the first pair of trains pulled away, each filled to capacity with 750 ticket-holders who had been due to travel at the weekend.
  
"There is no timetable, you just turn up," a Eurostar employee said in Brussels. "But don't bother if you have a ticket for Tuesday, you won't be able to travel till tomorrow."
  


Priority will be given to passengers who were due to travel on Saturday and Sunday, while those booked to travel on Monday and Tuesday will be eligible for travel on Wednesday, a Eurostar statement said.
  
"It has been chaos. We had a rotten few days," said 47-year-old David James, a British traveller who was marooned on a trip in Paris with his wife, seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter.
  
Politicians on both sides of the Channel have criticised the train operator -- a consortium of a British firm and the French and Belgian state networks -- for what is seen as its disastrous response to the breakdown.
  
Some 2,000 passengers were trapped in the tunnel under the English Channel on Friday night, many of them for hours on end, without food, drink, adequate sanitation or news of when or how they would be rescued.
  
On Tuesday, the French rail firm SNCF took out a full page ad in national papers in an attempt to explain what had happened and defend its role.
  
"Tests carried out on Sunday showed that short-circuits were caused by an exceptionally fine and powdery snow. It built up in the motor compartments and brutally condensed on entry to the tunnel," it said.
  


Temperatures plunged on Friday, as northwestern Europe was gripped by the first cold snap of the season, but in the undersea tunnel between France and Britain it is 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit).
  
"Eurostar's board has decided to order an independent inquiry. It will explain why the operations to get people out of the tunnel and on to London took so long and were accompanied by so little information," it said.
  
"Corrective actions will be put in place," the statement promised.
  
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered Eurostar to restart services on Tuesday after three days of chaos marred the busy pre-Christmas shopping season, and many passengers turned up to stations early to try to get home.
  
But the operator warned that only two thirds of the normal number of services would run, and that even those with tickets dating back to the weekend were not guaranteed places.
  
With this limited programme of departures, the company hopes to carry 26,000 passengers on Tuesday, whereas 75,000 have seen their travel plans disrupted by the breakdowns.
  
Passengers mostly queued calmly, many with young children in tow.
  
John Mitchell, 42, was among those warned he may be turned away.
  
Travelling with his two sons and wife, Fabienne, he said: "We are not guaranteed but we are staying confident. I have been told there will probably be nine trains so I am hopeful we will be with family in Paris by tonight."
  
Eurostar has said that it does not expect services to be back to normal before Christmas Day on Friday, and has advised travellers not to try to book new tickets for before this date.
  




Date created : 2009-12-22

  • THE OBSERVERS

    Eurostar passengers vent fury at 'third world' rail service

    Read more

  • WEATHER

    Cold snap kills dozens across Europe

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)